Tuesday, 16 June 2015

TV Review: UFC 188 Velasquez vs Werdum

We're off to Mexico City for our latest review as we find out who was crowned the true Heavyweight Champion at UFC 188, shown in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the women's strawweight division as Tecia Torres faced Angela Hill.

It seems that before this fight began those in the know where expecting this to be a brawling type of affair. What we got was almost the complete opposite, three rounds of solid but somewhat unspectacular action.

The fight began with Hill putting the pressure on and backing Torres up against the fence, but when Torres scored with the takedown the pace was set for the remainder of the first and the entire second, with Torres trying to transition into various positions and Hill doing her best to shut her down. It was solid and workmanlike, but it didn't exactly make for good viewing.

Things got a little better in the final round, but not by much. Hill came forward a lot more, and both women got in some good blows, but when the final horn sounded it felt like something of a relief that the fight was over.

So with no finish the judges came into play as Torres took the unanimous decision.

Featherweight action followed as Yair Rodriguez went up against Charles Rosa.

Now this was more like it. These two gave us three rounds of tremendous action, beginning with the spectacular kicks that Rodriguez went for in the opening seconds, and when the action went to the ground a few seconds later he locked Rosa in a triangle for what seemed like an age. Rosa managed to survive this scare, and as the round went on this fight had everyone on the edges of their seat.

Rosa began to slow down a little in the second round. This gave Rodriguez the chance to show what he was made of as he stuffed his man's takedown attempts and opened up a cut on the top of his end with a glancing elbow strike. But just when it seemed as if Rodriguez had this one in the bag Rosa came back strongly in the third round with some nice ground work, and although Rodriguez went for the triangle again Rosa survived again, and as the horn sounded the fans gave both fighters a standing ovation.

No finish meant more work for the judges as Rodriguez took the split decision, much to the delight of the Mexican fans.

It was up to middleweight for the next fight as Kelvin Gastelum faced Nate Marquardt.

This may not have been as action packed as the previous fight but it was still a pretty good encounter. Gastelum's striking looked top notch early on, with his jab giving Marquardt no end of trouble. This, allied with some nice ground work put him in a very good position, especially in the second round when an unanswered period of ground and pound looked as if it could bring an end to the fight.

Marquardt managed to survive though, but as the round went on Gastelum looked to have gassed himself out a little. He was still able to put in some good work on the ground, and although Marquardt managed to survive to the end of the round that was it for him. As soon as the round ended the doctor was called in to take a look at him. He pulled him out of the fight immediately, giving Gastelum the TKO win.

The co-main event featured lightweight action as Gilbert Melendez took on Eddie Alvarez.

This was another of those fights filled with nice solid action, although if you'd listened to the fans you'd have thought it was a stinker.

There was quiet a lengthy feeling out period at the beginning of the first, and when they got going it was Melendez who had the early success when he caught Alvarez with a big right elbow, damaging his nose and left eye. This blow alone would prove to be a pivotal moment in the fight because as soon as the round ended Alvarez made the rookie mistake of blowing his nose. His left eye swelled up almost instantly, hampering him for the rest of the fight.

The next two rounds followed a very similar pattern. Melendez would have some more success with his striking as he worked over Alvarez's left eye and puffed up his right, while Alvarez had some success with his takedowns and his kicks to Melendez's lead leg. His most damage moment came towards the end of the fight though when a spinning elbow strike opened up a cut on Melendez's head. It proved to be the last meaningful moment in the bout.

So with the fight going the distance the judges were called upon for the final time as Alvarez took the split decision.

The main event was the fight to unify the two Heavyweight titles, with Fabricio Werdum taking on Cain Velasquez.

These two clearly hadn't heard of the concept of the feeling out period, judging by the way they started things. The early exchanges in that first round were a sign of things to come, but to the surprise of many it wasn't Velasquez who was getting the better of them it was Werdum.

The Interim Champ was basically beating the Champ at his own game, getting the better of almost all of the exchanges, and by the time the round ended Velasquez looked exhausted and his face was a bloody mess.

Werdum continued with his tactics of choice in the second round as his success continued as many began to wonder if Mexico City's altitude was having a drastic effect on Velasquez. He managed to score with a takedown and connect with some nice leg kicks, but as the round went on he started to look like a beaten man.

By the time the third began it only looked a matter of time before Werdum would get the win with his striking. But when Velasquez followed his corner's orders and went for the takedown Werdum immediately locked in a guillotine choke. It wasn't long before Velasquez was tapping out to give Werdum the submission win.

In conclusion - it was kind of a mixed bag for the UFC this time around. A couple of the fights were okay, while the other three were definitely worth the price of admission. The main event heavyweight title clash really had that big fight vibe about it, as if you were about to see something special, which we did with Fabricio Werdum's wonderful performance.

But as good as Werdum's performance was I'm going to go with those in the know and give my prestigious fight of the night no-prize to featherweight clash between Yair Rodriguez and Charles Rosa.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give UFC 188 the thumbs up.